Where in the Worlds has SETI Institute Been? - August 13 - 19, 2017

Carl Sagan Center Activity Report July 2017

It has been another busy month at the SETI Institute, include publications, conferences, public presentations, field expeditions and more. Download full report

Some highlights include:

  • 10 peer-reviewed articles from SETI Institute scientists Janice Bishop, Jan Cami, Nathalie Cabrol, Franck Marchis, Dale Andersen and Daniel Huber in publications including Icarus, Astrophysical Journal Geobiology, The Astronomical Journal and Astrobiology
  • SETI Institute scientists Michael Busch, Franck Marchis, Melissa McGrath and Matt Tiscareno will have their research featured at the Division of Planetary Sciences meeting in October.
  • The work of SETI Institute scientists was featured at several important scientific conferences and events:
  • XVI International Clay Conference: Janice Bishop
    •   International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life: Gozen Ertem
    •   MCMC/ARC GCM Extended Group Meeting: Lori Fenton and Tim Michaels
    •   Fourth Conference on Early Mars: Virginia Gulick and Natalie Glines
    •   International Conference on Environmental Systems: John Rummel, Margaret Race and J. Andy Spry
    • ISS R&D Conference: Oana Marcu
    •   Division of Dynamical Astronomy: Mark Showalter and Robert French
  • Popular media featured the work of the SETI Institute as well:
    •   Gizmodo: Ross Beyer
    •   NBC News: Seth Shostak
    •   Science News: JR Skok and Matt Tiscareno
  • Public presentations included:
    • Franck Marchis: Astronomy on Tap, Observatoire de Marseille, and Observatoire de Paris
    • Seth Shostak : SETI Talks
  • Dale Andersen returned from a field expedition to the Canadian High Arctic – and returned the SETI Institute field expedition flag to headquarters
  • John Coughlin started a new position as director of the K2 Science Office
  • Margaret Race was appointed field editor, planetary protection for the Encyclopedia of Astrobiology 

mars roverMars 2020

NASA’s Mars 2020 mission will be a rover mission that will explore a part of Mars that may once have had environmental conditions favorable for microbial life. Specifically, it will examine rock and soil samples, and could potentially return samples to Earth for further analysis. SETI scientist Pablo Sobron is one of the researchers working to develop instruments and data processing tools for planetary exploration. This summer Pablo will conduct research in Timmins, Canada to calibrate instruments that will be carried by the rover to test rocks for minerals such as talc, chlorite and carbonate – if such minerals were detected on Mars, it could indicate the presence of water and the possibility of life. 

Perseid Meteor Shower

The Perseid meteor shower puts on a show that is visible from Earth every summer, peaking in August, but continuing into September. The Perseid meteor shower is caused by meteoroids, bits of solid matter ejected from Swift-Tuttle comet. SETI Institute scientist Peter Jenniskens coordinates a network of video surveillance cameras in the San Francisco Bay Area that track meteors moving through the upper layers of Earth’s atmosphere. This network is part of NASA’s Cameras for Allsky Meteor Surveillance (CAMS) project. Visualizations of meteor streams are created using data from CAMS.

Laser SETI

Laser SETI is the SETI Institute’s crowdfunding campaign to develop a unique optical SETI program – a network of specialized cameras placed around the globe to look for laser flashes from deep space. It will scan the whole sky all the time for signals from extraterrestrial intelligence. The campaign will end August 18 and the fundraising goal is $100K.

Voyager Golden Record

August 25 will mark the 40th anniversary of the Voyager Golden Record. Frank Drake, who conducted the first-ever SETI experiment and is Chairman Emeritus of the SETI Institute Board of Trustees was a member of the committee that determined what to include on the Golden Record, a committee that also included Carl Sagan.

The Golden Record, which includes sounds and images that portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth was included on the space probes Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 whose mission was to explore Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Their mission continues to this day, with both probes exploring interstellar space and sending data and images back to Earth.

A new PBS documentary, The Farthest, will premier next week.

seth shostakSETI Search is Speeding Up

Seth Shostak is Senior Astronomer at the SETI Institute and host of the Big Picture Science radio show and podcast. Speaking recently at Langley Research Center, Seth recalled a prediction he made during a speech in Germany nine years ago, that we would find evidence of aliens within two dozen years. While that prediction hasn’t yet been proven true, technological innovation and powerful data analysis tools is speeding up the search.

Facebook Live

In last week’s Facebook Live, we talked to three teams from this summer’s Frontier Development Lab (FDL):

  • Lunar Water & Volatiles: Determine the location and most promising access points for vital lunar H2O, in terms of cost effectiveness and engineering constraints
  • Solar-Terrestrial Interactions: Improve understanding of solar influence on Earths magnetosphere and atmosphere
  • Solar Storm Prediction: Discovering new relationships and agents to help predict major solar events

All SETI Institute Facebook Live videos can be found on our Facebook page.


iceBig Picture Science

Last week, our Skeptic Check encore featured Mythbuster’s Adam Savage in Busting Myths with Adam Savage. This week, On Thin Ice discusses the implications of global warming with respect to losing global ice. And if you haven’t listened yet, get ready for Monday’s eclipse with Eclipsing All Other Shows!



Space Station Museum, September 9 San Francisco, CA Screening of the movie Contact with commentary by Jill Tarter 

California Academy of Sciences Astronomy Lectures, September 11, San Francisco, CA Matt Tiscareno will about the end of the Cassini mission and the science of its grand finale.

StarTalk Radio, September 16-17, Seth Shostak will guest host this Neil deGrasse Tyson radio program that explores science, pop culture and comedy.

European Planetary Science Conference: September 17-22, Riga, Latvia SETI Institute Scientist Matt Tiscareno will present research on the planetary rings of Saturn and the Cassini mission.

Menlo Park Library Science Night, September 28, Menlo Park, CA SETI Institute scientist Margaret Race will take part in the Menlo Park Library’s annual science night. 

Division of Planetary Sciences, October 15-20, Provo, UT SETI Institute Scientist Matt Tiscareno will present research on the planetary rings of Saturn and the Cassini mission. 

American Geophysical Union: December 11-15, New Orleans, LA SETI Institute Scientist Matt Tiscareno will present research on the planetary rings of Saturn and the Cassini mission.